guest blog: Fennel & Apple Chopped Salad

June 17th, 2009

My mother-in-law is pretty amazing (not everyone can say that!). So you’ll understand why I was both honored and a bit nervous when she asked me to be a guest blogger. I’m not even going to attempt to fill Penny’s shoes in this post! But she does inspire and encourage me to embrace my love of cooking and culinary experiments. I hope this recipe celebrates her and encourages some of you to dare to try something new! For those of you already well on your way, salut!

The warm weather brings a wealth of opportunities in our kitchen! Grilled peppers, breads, and kabobs… refreshing salads, sauces, and salsas made with only the freshest produce are just some of my personal faves. Each year, I tend to find a few new ingredients on which to experiment. This year, several recent encounters with fennel have me intrigued! Last Winter we experienced fennel in beef short ribs, this Spring in a roasted pork tenderloin, and just a few weeks ago atop a fresh arugula salad with roasted tomatoes and parmesan at Nova in Asheville, NC.

When a Cook’s Illustrated issue surfaced featuring 3 different chopped salad recipes, one of which featured fennel, it ony took me about half of a second to lock this recipe into on our weekly dinner menu. The ingredients may seem unusual at first, but it only takes one bite to discover how wonderful they are together!

We also had fun with melted cheese as a savory side. Melted cheese you ask? Yes! Shred up some cheddar or parmesan and make little shredded piles on a silpat-lined baking sheet. Pop it in the oven at 375, and just keep an eye on it. The cheese will spread out and start bubbling. When it’s browned and hardened just a tiny bit, take it out and let it cool for a couple of minutes. Peel the crisps off the silpat, and you have some custom, homemade cheddar crisps! YUM!

The recipe posted below is just as it appears in Cook’s Illustrated (July/August 2009 issue). A few personal cook’s notes follow the recipe.

Fennel and Apple Chopped Salad

1 medium cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, and cut into 1/2 inch dice
(about 1 1/4 cups)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 medium fennel bulb, halved lengthwise, cored, and cut into a 1/4 inch dice
(about 1 1/2 cups)
2 Braeburn, Jonagold, or Red Delicious applies, cored, and cut into 1/4 inch dice
(about 2 cups)
1/2 small red onion, minced
(about 1/4 cup)
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh tarragon leaves
1 romaine heart, cut tino 1/2 inch pieces
(about 3 cups)
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted
ground black pepper
4 ounces crumbled goat cheese
(about 1 cup)

Combine cucumber and 1/2 teaspoon salt in colander set over bowl. Let stand 15 minutes.

Whisk oil and vinegar together in large bowl. Add drained cucumber, fennel, apples, onion, and tarragon; toss and let stand at room temperature to blend flavors, 5 minutes.

Add romaine and walnuts; toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Divide salad among plates; top each with some goat cheese and serve.
Recommendations (a.k.a. Personal Notes):

  • While the recipe does not call to cook any of the ingredients, I prefer to soften the fennel by sauteing in a pan with olive oil, salt and pepper until tender. If you choose to do the same, allow the fennel to come back down to room temp before mixing into the salad.
  • I do not remove the seeds from the cucumber. I don’t think it’s necessary!
  • Some people do not care for walnuts. I think this recipe would work nicely with pistachios, pecans, or cashews.

Printable Recipe

11 responses to “guest blog: Fennel & Apple Chopped Salad”

  1. Mary says:

    Your salad is really beautiful. Thank you for guest hosting. I hope that will occur often.

  2. Katy ~ says:

    What a delicious first post. This sounds so very good; I love all the ingredients in this and will certainly save this for future use. You have done well by Penny and yourself.

  3. Penny says:

    Thank you Kristen! Good job. When I first tasted this salad I knew you had to blog about it. The fennel and fresh tarragon give it an unbelievable taste. And those cheddar crisps! Amazing! You can post anytime you want to.
    Love, Penny

  4. Susan says:

    A wonderful salad with all of my favorite things. I will try this. Thanks.

  5. Now that is a gorgeous salad! I don’t know what it is but I love apples in a salad, especially when they are combined with onion. I am bookmarking this!

  6. That salad sounds and look wonderful! I love fennel. I have a wonderful recipe for fennel, pear, goganzola cheese salad, drizzled with a red wine and balsamic vinager reduction that is to die for!

  7. the fennel, pear and gorgonzola sound fantastic! thanks for the kind remarks everyone!

  8. girlichef says:

    This is an absolutely delicious sounding salad! I love fennel and definitely don’t use it enough. And the parmesan crisps…oh yeah…perfection.

  9. Aggie says:

    I think your post and recipe are great!! Love the savory side!!

  10. Grace says:

    i’m woefully unfamiliar with fennel and anything involving it, but this looks like a killer salad. excellent work!

  11. That salad looks wonderful. I will copy and use it…for sure! Thank you for sharing it. I have never used goat cheese..I must try it.

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